The SBI crime lab remains leaderless.
Gerald Arnold, former chief judge of the N.C. Court of Appeals, said today that other commitments have caused him to decline the job as interim director of the troubled crime lab.
“The time frame for me was not right, I wish it had been,” Arnold said. “It just didn’t work out.”
On September 8, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that Arnold would act as interim lab director while a national search for a permanent director was underway. Cooper said Arnold would make sure that the lab would provide test results that are accurate and properly reported.
“It is critical that Judge Arnold take a good thorough look,” Cooper said that day. “If problems are found, they will be fixed.”
The crime lab has come under widespread criticism and scrutiny that threatens pending cases as well as concluded cases. A recent audit found that SBI lab analysts withheld or misreported the results of blood tests in at least 229 cases.
That audit, by two retired FBI supervisors, focused on evidence withheld from prosecutors and defense attorneys.
Arnold said he did not have a difference of opinion with SBI leadership about how to do the job.
“It wasn’t’ that they said I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that,” he said. “I think I would have done whatever I wanted to do."
Cooper is "frustrated with this unfortunate development," according to an email from Noelle Talley, Cooper's spokeswoman. Cooper believes he's found an excellent replacement for Arnold to conduct an independent legal review, the email said, but did not specify whom the replacement would be.